The Canon IXUS 125 HS is fast to start up and is ready for action in less than two seconds of pressing the power button. Focusing is also quick, accurate and difficult to fool in most conditions.
The 5x optical zoom (24-120mm equivalent) lens may not sound remarkable in comparison with some of its IXUS siblings, yet it does provide a 24mm wide angle equivalent that should be wide enough for good close-up group shots, plus adequate telephoto range for most scenarios.
Zooming between focal lengths is a smooth and accurate process, making it easy to achieve precise focal length adjustment.
There's very slight barrel distortion visible at the widest focal length, changing to an equally minor pincushion effect at maximum zoom. However, this distortion is only apparent on close scrutiny when shooting architecture or geometric shapes.
Real-world dynamic range performance is impressive, with the exposure metering invariably striking a good balance between preserving highlight details and giving realistic shadow definition.
Chromatic aberration is visible in some high-contrast areas, but is only noticeable when pixel peeping.
The 16.1MP CMOS sensor provides a high level of detail that is sharpest in the centre of frame, although the lens still often maintains decent corner clarity.
Minor problems were evident in some landscape shots, where fine distance detail can sometimes appear slightly smeared, even at low ISO settings. It's difficult to determine what causes this, but the overall effect looks like the result of slightly overzealous noise reduction algorithms.
Nevertheless, this is a relatively minor issue that is unlikely to bother most users.
General high sensitivity (ISO) performance is very impressive, with the HS sensor virtually eliminating colour speckling in all but the highest sensitivity setting (ISO 3200).
Fine grain noise is still visible in shadow areas of low ISO daylight shots when viewing at full resolution, but this isn't distracting and is generally preferable to loosing detail as a result of extra noise suppression.